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Lessons learned preview: Packaging machinery

Ten pieces of advice selected from 700 packaging professionals who share their packaging machinery insights.

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The October issue of Packaging World will feature a special report on Lessons Learned: Packaging Machinery, based on 700 responses to a May 2008 survey. We’re giving our Packaging Insights readers a special sneak peek at some of the responses, which have been edited for clarity. You can find the other three reports—advice on projects, materials, and packaging departments—by searching “lessons learned” at

Evaluate suppliers carefully in advance. Identify deliverables and the timing associated with them. Establish penalties for failures to meet agreed-upon deliverables.

Don't over-design a package: Understand the limitations of the equipment or persons running it.

Properly maintained machinery is only as good as the product coming to it and the material running on it.

Design for higher-than-needed line speeds because it is easier to budget more money now than after an install when the line capacity needs to be increased before the ROI has happened.

All machinery has its own personality, you must get to know and understand it in order to get the most from it.

When purchasing new equipment, go to where you can see it in action. Be sure you are able to talk with those who work with this machinery daily. Don't beat around the bush—ask direct questions of the operators and the maintenance department. Make sure you are satisfied with the machine you are about to purchase before you take the big leap. Remember that the salesperson will not always tell you the downfalls of the equipment.

Machinery needs to be designed to be as simple as possible for operators. For example, use machinery that has hard settings for packaging changes rather than “pointers and rules.”

Speed does not always help. Slower, but cost-effective and efficient, equipment is the key to optimum performance.

The must lesson I have learned is that packaging should be treated with more affection for it is the image of the company and our product we are showing to all our customers.

A good operator can make a bad machine run, but a bad operator will try even the best machine!

Look for the full Lessons Learned feature in the October issue of Packaging World or check back at in October.

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